Macromolecular prodrugs of ribavirin: Towards a treatment for co-infection with HIV and HCV

Our newest efforts on fighting hepatitis C and HIV with a single formulation have been published in Chemical Science.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) represent tremendous healthcare burdens with a large proportion of patients hosting the two viruses at the same time. Altered hepatic function and immunity as well as cross-interference of drugs make treatment of co-infection increasingly challenging. Herein we report the first design of macromolecular prodrugs (MP) with concurrent success in fighting HIV and alleviating hepatitis (liver inflammation). To achieve this, polymer composition was systematically screened in a broad range of molar mass and content of ribavirin – a broad spectrum antiviral agent. For the first time, we report that ribavirin is efficacious in fighting HIV and in the form of MP, the treatment is safe, both in terms of lack of association of ribavirin with red blood cells and lack of toxicity upon cellular internalization. The lead polymer compositions were also potent in anti-inflammatory assays with relevance to viral hepatitis – thus making up formulations with potential for treatment of co-infection with HIV and HCV.